Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Month in Vancouver - August 2008

Well, I tried keeping a blog of my time in Hong Kong. That didn't end up happening. But I'm going to try again. I came back from Hong Kong in the middle of June, spent a few weeks in Ottawa, and then flew out to Vancouver with plans to move here and get a job teaching English. Admittedly, living in Vancouver isn't as interesting as living in Hong Kong, but I thought it might still be worth it to keep a journal of my time here. And if I'm successful this time around, maybe I'll be able to keep doing it when (and if) I next travel abroad.

So, I came out here in the middle of July. At five hours, the flight was short (at least compared to the Hong Kong flight), and I spent most of it reading. Fortunately I'd visited Vancouver on my way back from Hong Kong, so I knew what to do when I arrived. I caught the airport shuttle to downtown Vancouver, and then got the SkyTrain to the East Side, where my hostel was. Carting around a heavy suitcase and several bags was a little tricky, but not as bad as grappling with my Hong Kong luggage would have been.

I spent my first few weeks here in a combination of exploring and job-hunting. Since my hostel is within walking-distance of downtown, I would walk into town almost every day, either to run errands or just for exercise. I started sending out résumés at once, hoping to find a job as soon as possible. After a couple of interviews, I was successful - at least partly. I got a position at a language school downtown, teaching English to small classes of international students. Unfortunately it's only a temporary job, and when enrolment drops off I will have to look for another job. Still, it's nice to be working again, and so far the job seems to be going well. The classes each have about twelve people, which is a nice size for working with. The students come from various places, including Korea, Japan, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. There are even French Canadians and a couple of Taiwanese students. I'm enjoying the chance to meet people from so many different countries, and I feel like every week I'm at the school I get a little bit better at my job.

Shortly after I arrived here I took a trip to Victoria, on Vancouver Island. The ferry trip was nice; it was a beautiful day and I went up on deck to look at the gulf islands. The total commute was rather aggravatingly long, though. Beside the one-and-a-half hour ferry ride, there was also an hour-long bus trip at either end. Factor in waiting time and it took a good four to five hours each way. Victoria itself is a nice little city, rather like London, Ontario in terms of size, but much prettier. I was only there for a few days, but I did get to see the downtown area and climb a small hill.

At the beginning of August I went to the beach to watch a fireworks competition between Canada, the United States, and China. We had a really good view, right down on the beach next to the water. I'd seen fireworks before, but I'd rarely seen a fireworks show set to music, and I'd never seen one from that close. Canada won the competition, which was good, because I think we had the best show.
The same weekend also happened to be Pride Weekend in Vancouver. On Saturday I went out to one of the parks to see a lesbian live music show. On Sunday morning I had a charity pancake breakfast and the went to see the parade on Robson St. It was my first time attending a Pride parade, and I found it a little peculiar, but I'm still glad I went. Oh, and the pancakes were really good. That was probably the best breakfast I've ever had for $5.00!

I was pretty excited about the Beijing Olympics in August. It was a really hot topic when I was in Hong Kong. In the event, I didn't get to see as much of the games I hoped to, because I started work at the same. I missed most of the opening ceremonies, and a lot of the first week. I watched more in the second week, and I got to see some of the swimming, the diving, the volleyball, the running, and the gymnastics, which is one of my favourites. I also made a point of watching all of the closing ceremonies. The best part was when the Chinese stars all got together to sing "Wo Ai Bei Jing" ("I Love Beijing"). I actually recognised some of the singers!

As when I went to Hong Kong, I've been experimenting with different churches in the city. So far I've been to a Chinese church, a United church, and a Presbyterian church. I haven't settled on one yet, though.

I'm still working, and still staying at a hostel. I'm also still enjoying my time here. The weather's been lovely so far, and I still do a lot of walking every day. My only regret is that I haven't gotten out of the city more. Vancouver is surrounded by hills and forest, and is a great location for hiking, but so far I haven't done any. I will try to get out more, though, before the good weather goes.

Movies I've seen this month:

The Dark Knight - Very impressive movie. Exciting action sequences, solid storyline, and a surprisingly dark tone. I especially enjoyed the Hong Kong scenes, which featured familiar landmarks like Victoria Harbour, the International Finance Centre, and the Wan Chai bridge. I want to see it again! (Four stars)

Books I've read this month:

Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke - Interesting and somewhat entertaining science fiction about astronauts investigating an abandoned alien spacecraft.

Tolkien's Ring by David Day - Survey of the myths and legends that influenced the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Interesting both for its analysis of Tolkien and its recounting of various folk-tales.